World population will continue to rise

September 22, 2014

When it comes to the party that is planet Earth, we might need to plan for a few extra guests, according to scientists. A new statistical projection concludes that the world population is unlikely to level off during the 21st century, leaving the planet to deal with as many as 13 billion human inhabitants—4 billion of those in Africa—by 2100.

World population graph

Learn more here.

What happens when you have no cerebellum in your brain?

September 14, 2014

A woman has reached the age of 24 without anyone realising she was missing a large part of her brain. The case highlights just how adaptable the organ is.

The discovery was made when the woman was admitted to hospital complaining of dizziness and nausea. Doctors did a CAT scan and immediately identified the source of the problem – her entire cerebellum was missing. The space where it should be was empty of tissue. Instead it was filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions the brain and provides defence against disease.

Scan showing no cerebellum (top). Normal brain (bottom).

Scan showing no cerebellum (top). Normal brain (bottom).

The cerebellum’s main job is to control voluntary movements and balance, and it is also thought to be involved in our ability to learn specific motor actions and speak. Problems in the cerebellum can lead to severe mental impairment, movement disorders, epilepsy or a potentially fatal build-up of fluid in the brain. However, in this woman, the missing cerebellum resulted in only mild to moderate motor deficiency, and mild speech problems such as slightly slurred pronunciation. Learn more here.

Giant dinosaur unearthed in Argentina

September 5, 2014

They just keep getting bigger. The latest dinosaur to be discovered was 26 metres long and seven times as heavy as Tyrannosaurus rex . Named Dreadnoughtus schrani by the team who found it, the bones belonged to the largest known land animal whose size can be reliably calculated. And it wasn’t even fully grown.

Dreadnoughtus schrani

The 77-million-year-old Dreadnoughtus skeleton was found in south-west Patagonia, Argentina, in 2005, and has taken several years to analyse. While other giants from Patagonia are known from a handful of bones, almost half of the Dreadnoughtus skeleton has been recovered. What’s more, the fossilised bones are in such good condition – even revealing where muscles attached – that the skeleton could provide unprecedented insights into the biology, movement and evolution of the group of huge plant-eating dinosaurs it belonged to, called the titanosaurian sauropods. Learn more here, here, here, here or here.

The neuroscience of restorative justice

September 2, 2014

Daniel Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And he asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn’t we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate? Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury … could we help the brain re-grow morality?

You Can Learn Anything

August 28, 2014

Most people think their intelligence is fixed. The science says it’s not. It starts with knowing you can learn anything.

This all relates to Carol Dweck’s ‘Growth Mindset’ theory. You can explore more at Khan Academy here.

Carol explains her theory here:

This all relates to the following great video …

What motivates us to work?

August 21, 2014

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money. But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose.

Where do good ideas come from?

August 18, 2014

Humans need not apply

August 17, 2014

This video combines two thoughts to reach an alarming conclusion: “Technology gets better, cheaper, and faster at a rate biology can’t match” + “Economics always wins” = “Automation is inevitable.”

How optical illusions trick your brain

August 13, 2014

I really like optical illusions.

Optical illusions are images that seem to trick our minds into seeing something different from what they actually are. But how do they work? Learn more in this clip ….

How Gravity Makes Things Fall

July 24, 2014

This is really interesting …


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